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Poole to step down as Md. Democratic Party chair; Matthews in line to succeed

The top of the Maryland Democratic Party is about to change with the impending resignation of Chairman D. Bruce Poole.

D. Bruce Poole, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party and a former state delegate from Hagerstown. (file The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

D. Bruce Poole, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party and a former state delegate from Hagerstown. (file The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Poole, a former state delegate from Hagerstown, said he plans to step down on March 1 and that Kathleen Matthews, a former Democratic candidate for Congress, is the “odds-on favorite” to succeed him.

“It’s time,” Poole said of the job he’s held for nearly two years. “I told people that I would stay on and get the party through the presidential election cycle.”

“I love this job, but I’m not kidding, in order to do this job and my law practice, I basically gave up everything else except for family and church.”

Poole stepped in a time when the party was reeling from a loss in the 2014 governor’s race — a defeat that also hurt the party’s ability to raise money.

Party officials are expected to meet on March 1 and name an interim replacement for Poole. The departing chairman said the likely candidate is Matthews,  a former television reporter and head of corporate communications  for Marriott International. She is also married to Chris Matthews, a political commentator and host of Hardball on MSNBC.

“She wants the job very badly,” Poole said, adding that he knows of no one else who is openly campaigning for the position.

“She also has a great background in journalism and is able to deliver a message well and has a lot of contacts,” Poole said, adding that those contacts will help with fundraising as the party looks to unseat Hogan and maintain seats in the House and Senate.

“To do this job well, you need to have a lot of elected officials contacts, a lot of donor contacts and a lot of contacts with advocates and you have to go beyond the state level,” he said.

Kathleen Matthews (center) speaks with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (left) and Sen. Thomas M. "Mac" Middleton, D-Charles County and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (right). (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Kathleen Matthews (center) speaks with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (left) and Sen. Thomas M. ‘Mac’ Middleton, D-Charles County and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (right). (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Matthews made the rounds in the State House last week.

In brief comments, she told a reporter she was running for the office.

Poole said Matthews, being a woman and a resident of Montgomery County, is “very powerful stuff.”

Matthews could become the Poole’s permanent successor when the full party selects a chairman in May.

Poole said he plans to focus on his law practice but also hopes to get back to some of the hobbies he’s put aside over the last two years, including skiing, shooting, and surfing — something he said he hasn’t done in over 30 years.

“It’s been quite a few years but I’d like to get in good enough shape to get up on a board by this summer,” Poole said.


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